Off-campus partying tops city-student talk

Malavika Jagannathan

Echoing the main concern of residents at last week’s community forum, off-campus parties dominated the discussion at the second community meeting Monday night.

Residents, students and Northwestern officials gathered again at the Family Institute to open up discussion on mutual community concerns.

At the end of Monday’s meeting, residents and students offered ideas to better community relations, including block parties, neighborhood watches and a possible community orientation for incoming freshmen.

However, the discussion was again overwhelmed by the issue of off-campus parties, which residents complained result in noise, vandalism and poor neighborhood relations between students and residents.

When residents suggested bringing back on-campus parties, officials said that might not reduce the problem, especially with underage drinking.

“If the university allows alcohol on campus, students will still leave Norris or the fraternities and wander around,” said Lucile Krasnow, special assistant for community relations. “We have a problem with students drinking and we will always have them.”

Some attendees of the first meeting said they would have liked to see other items discussed.

“We didn’t really talk about issues like safety,” said Ben Cherry, chairman of Associated Student Government’s external relations. “It was brought up once and dropped. I wanted to hear what Evanston residents had to say about increased lighting.”

On Monday night, when Cherry, a Weinberg junior, raised the issue again, residents spent time dissecting the problem.

Recent NU alumna Olivia Knol said, “Improving lighting not only makes students feel safer, but it would help Evanston residents see whether vandalism is the result of students or bad seeds in the neighborhood.”

Although about 40 people attended Monday night’s forum, just as with the first meeting, residents outnumbered students almost four to one.

“The reason we had so many residents is because it was very good publicity,” Weinberg senior Courtney Brunsfeld said. “Hundreds of flyers were delivered in the vicinity. There was even a flyer on my apartment building, but students tend to ignore those things more than residents do.”

Brunsfeld, the ASG liaison to city council, noted the importance of making students realize they should be involved in these forums.

“We have to figure out how students and residents can feel like neighbors rather than enemies cohabiting the same street,” she said.

Knol, who is now a homeowner, said she has faced prejudice from her neighbors who have a “negative and hostile view of students.”

The accomplishments of both of these meetings is still unsure, although some at the university said they are pleased with the increased communication.

“Neighbors, administrators and staff from NU should be conversing about neighborhood issues,” Krasnow said. “That’s exactly what happened. I thought it was an excellent beginning. They were able to voice their concerns and their interests. We were also able to give them considerable information.”

When residents complained Thursday about illegal parking on residential streets, Krasnow explained how NU increased on-campus parking by offering cheaper parking by Ryan Field.

Some people remain hopeful that regular meetings will result in constructive measures.

“I hope these can become a regular thing and yield something productive,” Cherry said. “But it’s going to take a pretty big effort on both the part of the students and residents to set aside whatever bias they might have and try to see how the other half lives.”